Quarter of jobs at risk at City Pub Group after coronavirus restrictions

The boss of City Pub Group has said it could cut its workforce by at least a quarter after being hammered by lockdown restrictions.

Clive Watson, chairman of the pub group, told the PA News Agency that “at least 25%” of roles are at risk but said this “could be more in the end”.

The company, which runs 48 pubs, primarily in London and the south of England, had around 1,000 employees prior to the pandemic.

City Pub Group has reopened 37 sites in its pub estate but said it expects jobs to be hit at its remaining 11 sites when the current furlough scheme ends next month.

Clive Watson, executive chair of City Pub Group
Clive Watson, executive chair of City Pub Group

“With the sites that are currently closed, jobs will go and we are now seeing how current restrictions will impact others,” Mr Watson told PA.

“We are looking at this affecting at least 25% of our workforce we have to say, although this could be more.”

The company has now started a consultation which could see staff agree to reduced hours, he added.

Mr Watson said he expects there to be a jobs “bloodbath” among pubs and hospitality firms once the job retention scheme comes to an end on October 31.

He said the replacement job support scheme, which was announced by the Chancellor last week, is “not suitable as a mechanism to save jobs in the pub trade”.

Mr Watson said the business is “fairly well protected” from the impact of the 10pm curfew and believes that people will change their habits as a result.

“I think we are already seeing some signs that people are coming to pubs earlier and obviously that’s something we’re keen to see,” he said.

“The desire to go to the pub is definitely still there but I think we’ll see more shifts in people’s habits as restrictions continue to change.

“I think Christmas will be tough without Christmas parties and big groups, but hopefully we might also not see the same fall in January as people usually detox. We’ll just have to see how things pan out.”

The comments came as the group hailed “strong” revenues since reopening, with like-for-like sales at around 80% of previous levels.

It revealed that revenues tumbled to £12.1 million for the six months to June 28, from £27.1 million in the same period last year.

Shares in the company moved 7.6% higher to 61.9p after early trading on Wednesday.